PHILADELPHIA -- The intensity level was raised for Tuesday’s joint practice between the Patriots and Eagles, and so too was the chemistry level between quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Danny Amendola.
A three-play sequence in 11-on-11 drills -– some good, some bad -- had shades of the Brady/Wes Welker connection that produced big results from 2007-2012.
It started with the ball was on the 20-yard line, the Eagles bringing pressure, and Amendola running a corner route to the left side of the end zone. Brady, who was sharp throughout the practice, delivered an arcing pass over trailing safety Kenny Phillips, the football arriving in a spot where only Amendola could dive to make the reception.
Just terrific execution.
“Great throw,” Amendola said after practice. “It was a Cover-0, Cover-1 blitz and Tom didn’t have much time to get the ball out because the coverage they were in. It was a play we executed a couple times in camp and it worked out.”
Brady and Amendola communicated via hand signal before the snap in a reflection of how their on-field chemistry continues to grow. The hand signal confirmed they were reading the same thing from the defense, so Amendola was to stick with the original intention of the play.
“That’s pretty much the route that was drawn up in the huddle. Tom liked it and he didn’t get us out of it,” Amendola relayed.
Later in the drill, Amendola ran a left-to-right crossing route about 20 yards down the field, drawing a pass interference penalty. He remained down briefly after the contact before retreating to the sidelines for a visit with athletic trainer Jim Whalen.
For a brief moment, there was concern.
“I’m good. I’m fine. Just chipped my tooth a little bit. Mainly just hit the ground,” Amendola said afterwards. “It was a bang-bang play.”
Amendola returned to the huddle after missing a handful of plays, and the Patriots were inside the 10-yard line. Brady promptly fired a strike to him at the goal line -- he was wide open -- but the catch wasn’t made.
“I wish I could have had that last one back, obviously. It was a great ball,” said Amendola, whose voice could be heard across the practice field at the time as he shouted out in frustration. “I have to come down with that one. That one hurts.”
Amendola had run a patented Welker-style option route underneath the coverage in the middle of the field, finding the opening based on what he saw from the defense.
Part of what made Brady and Welker so lethal was that they were often on the same page on those underneath option routes. Brady and Amendola have come a long way in a short time in developing that type of rapport, with Tuesday a good example.
It wasn’t always perfect. But at times, it looked quite impressive.
“Danny’s done a great job,” Brady said. “He’s fun to be out there with. He takes practice very seriously. He’s an extremely hard worker, wants to do the right thing on every single play and has very high expectations for himself.
“We’re in constant communication. He loves football, so it’s a great teammate to have.”